About PEERS Network
The Partners Engaging and Empowering Rough Sleepers (PEERS) Network was launched in July 2019 to build on the growing partnerships amongst community groups, social service and government agencies. The PEERS Network helps to empower, facilitate, and support community partners in providing assistance to rough sleepers and homeless individuals.
There are over 50 partners within the PEERS Network, who share a common mission: to identify, engage and support rough sleepers and homeless individuals, to help them reintegrate into the community. The Network supports rough sleepers and homeless individuals with their underlying issues, and helps them reconcile with family members, seek employment, apply for financial assistance, and/or secure long-term housing.
Within MSF, our dedicated team at PEERS Office plays a facilitative role to assist and support community partners.
Initiatives to Support Rough Sleepers and Homeless Individuals
The PEERS Network has three main initiatives: (i) Befriending, (ii) Safe Sound Sleeping Places (S3Ps) and (iii) Night Cafés.
Click here for information on assistance for rough sleepers and homeless individuals.
Befrienders regularly engage rough sleepers on the streets, and spend time listening and understanding their issues to gain trust and render help. They encourage rough sleepers to take shelter and assist them in approaching the various help agencies for the help they need.
Safe Sound Sleeping Places (S3Ps) are ground-up initiatives that provide rough sleepers and homeless individuals a safe environment to rest for the night. S3Ps, located in public facilities (e.g. community clubs) and community-based premises (e.g. places of worship and religious-based organisations) make it easier for befrienders and social service agencies to keep in touch with rough sleepers and homeless individuals so they can provide social support in a timely manner.
Night Cafés provide free meals, recreational amenities and shower facilities, where befrienders and social workers can interact with rough sleepers in a conducive and safe environment, to better understand their needs and extend support. Our befrienders will help to connect rough sleepers with relevant agencies, when they are ready to receive assistance.
Community Efforts During COVID-19
Visit to Bartley Christian Church which set up S3P to meet sudden surge in demand for shelter during COVID-19.
Newly set up S3P in response to the demand for shelter at Masjid Hang Jebat.
Donations that came in during COVID from various community partners. These were distributed to S3P operators to support their operations.
ART kits delivered by Futuready.
Befriending efforts during COVID-19.
The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic downturn contributed to a growing number of rough sleepers and homeless individuals requiring shelter and assistance. Some were unable to return home or lost their accommodation due to loss of income, divorce, and/or tensions with family members or co-tenants, while others were affected by travel restrictions and were unable to return to their country of residence.
The pandemic tested the ability of the PEERS Network to respond quickly and effectively to ensure that our rough sleeper and homeless friends were supported. With safe-distancing measures and the closure of public spaces during COVID-19, more rough sleepers were willing to accept shelter support. Thanks to the support of 40 partners, the PEERS Network supported over 1,000 rough sleepers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The formation of the PEERS Network has led to better coordination in efforts to help rough sleepers quickly and comprehensively. Since the Network was formed in 2019, we have supported over 1,000 individuals by helping them reconcile with family members, find a job, obtain financial assistance and/or longer-term housing. For those who remain on the streets, befriending groups continue to engage them through active outreach, while encouraging them to seek shelter support.
Figure 1: Location overview of PEERS Network’s initiatives.
[Note: Geographical distribution of observations based on: Dr Ng Kok Hoe, Homeless in Singapore: Results from a Nationwide Street Count, 2019, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, NUS. For more details, see study website and report.]